Lahore Bombings: Indians Are Suspects, So Are Americans

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US Ambassador complains to Pakistani Government that media reports have exposed the location of American residences inside Lahore’s military zone, but fails to mention why US personnel with diplomatic cover have been found at wrong places, sometimes carrying weapons that diplomats are not supposed to

Lahore’s military zone is not only exposed to covert Indian operatives but also to undercover US agents with their suspicious heavy-duty equipment placed in several houses inside a gated community right in the heart of the city’s military area. This has been going on since 2007.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The eastern city of Lahore is exposed not only to the Indians who have been sending terrorists to plant bombs in public places for the past quarter of a century, but also to the Americans who expanded their covert presence inside Pakistan in the last three years of President Musharraf’s rule.  After the return to democracy in 2008, the US presence [beyond diplomatic requirements or disguised under diplomatic cover] is reported to have increased manifold.

Last year, Pakistanis were stunned to watch several incidents where US citizens were caught by the Military Police at checkpoints leading up to the city’s military zone known as Cantt.  Most of the time, these US individuals refused to say what business took them to the military area. The US Consulate in Lahore is located far away from this zone, which compounded the mystery. These US nationals also refused to allow the police to check their vehicles, which is a standard procedure that all Pakistanis undergo considering the terrorist attacks. On a couple of occasions, US vehicles whose drivers refused to cooperate with MP caused long queues at checkpoints. Military Police officers impounded these vehicles. This led to US officials complaining to their media that Pakistan was ‘harassing’ US diplomats.

But the truth is that the Americans have covertly maintained an outpost of several houses in a gated community right in the heart of the city’s military zone. This zone is so sensitive that a half-constructed Sheraton Hotel lies abandoned on one of Cantt’s main streets because the Pakistani military complained that the new hotel’s upper floors provided an easy view of the residence of the commander of the Pakistan Army Corp that guards Pakistan’s northeastern border with India.

This makes the covert US presence in this area intriguing to say the least. The exact location of these houses, in the elite Sarwar Colony, is shown in the pictures that accompany this report. Most of the residents of this colony are senior retired Pakistani military officers. A handful of them have apparently leased out their homes to the Americans at exorbitant rates that far exceed the normal level of leased property rates in the Colony, according to a fascinating expose published by TheNation and is reproduced below in full.

Why are we talking about a few houses rented out by Americans linked to US government in a sensitive part of the eastern city?

The reason is a wave of terror targeting Lahore over the past two years. This is not to suggest that the US government has something to do with this.  The suspicion centers on local terrorists indirectly or directly aided by intelligence operatives from multiple countries based in Afghanistan.  The point here is that the city of Lahore is exposed not only to local terrorists working with foreign handlers, but also to Indians and possibly to private American security contractors. These contractors expanded their presence in Pakistan in the past two years, mostly using diplomatic cover. The US Embassy in Islamabad under the incumbent Ambassador has been instrumental in pushing for an expanded role for private US defense contractors in Pakistan over the past two years.

Many Pakistanis feel that such penetration of Pakistan by foreign countries is detrimental to our national security and has unnecessarily exposed us to outsiders pursuing interests that may not overlap with our own.

Today, the US Embassy in Islamabad leaked key points of a letter that US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson has sent to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. In the letter, Ambassador Patterson complained about TheNation report on the American presence in Cantt, Lahore. More interestingly, she made a veiled threat that Pak-US relations would suffer if those Americans became targets for a terror attack. The letter was leaked to the Dawn newspaper.

The most interesting part of her letter was an acknowledgement on her part that the security of US diplomats in Pakistan is the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan. This is important because it was Ms Patterson who only a year ago was lobbying the Pakistani government to allow US private defense contractors into Pakistan and was running from one government office to another to ensure that these private US contractors are allowed to carry banned weapons anywhere in the country.

When Ms. Patterson was asked why she needed these private security contractors, she said it was to protect US diplomats. Critics said that was the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan and that the Ambassador should not cross a line. Her acknowledgement of this indicates a shift. Probably it has to do with recent understandings between Army Chief Gen. Kayani and US military officials where the army chief reportedly asked US to stop indirect methods of coercion, including media leaks, the role of private contractors in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the role of CIA in the region.

So how did the Pakistani military allow such a breach to occur in a sensitive area of Lahore?
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This Is How US Agents Sneak Into Pakistan

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For a few hundred dollars, low-paid border guards are allowing entry into Pakistan to spies and agents of multiple foreign intelligence agencies operating in Afghanistan. In this story and video, see how a US lady entered Pakistan through Torkham on Saturday, Mar. 13, 2010, without visa and without the knowledge of Pakistani intelligence officers posted there. This happens in a country that faces terrorism exported by both US-controlled Afghanistan and its Indian ally.

BY SYED FAWAD ALI SHAH:

TORKHAM, Pakistan—Rampant corruption and a weak Pakistani state are helping the entry into Pakistan of spies and terrorists from multiple foreign intelligence agencies operating in Afghanistan. Almost all terror in Pakistan is coming from Afghanistan.

This American woman tried to sneak into Pakistan through Torkham on Afghan border today, Saturday, Mar. 13, 2010, around early afternoon. She was wearing an Afghan woman’s burqa and apparently spoke local dialects. She would have successfully crossed into Pakistan safely hidden among a group of Afghan women but something about her demeanor raised the suspicion of a Pakistani border guard.

However, the border guards, known as Khasadars, made sure that Pakistani intelligence officers posted in the area are not told about this arrest. Torkham is considered a hot station within Kasadar tribal force circles. With salaries that go less than PKR 10,000 per month [less than US$ 130], major checkpoints such as Torkham provide an extra source of income for the Khasadars through bribes from travelers.

The guards kept the woman in a room for about thirty minutes and then let her enter Pakistan in her burqa. She paid the Khasadar guards a handsome amount of money as bribe. According a source in the Khasadar Force who witnessed the whole thing, the woman didn’t panic. She appeared composed and familiar with the ways of the border guards. She knew what to do in such a situation.

Thanks to my contacts in the border force, I was able to make a cell phone video of her passport while the Khasadar chief at the checkpoint talked to her.

Her name on the passport was Zohra Rehmati, which makes her an American from either Iranian or Tajik-Afghan extract.

Over the past four years, a large number of US agents have entered Pakistan through Afghanistan. Several have been arrested in different parts of the country disguised as Afghan men, complete with beards and Turbans and fluent in Pashto, Dari and Urdu. Unfortunately, much of this covert American activity was sanctioned first by the Musharraf government and now by the pro-US Zardari-Haqqani combine in the incumbent government.

Ms. Rehmati, if that is her real name, may or may not be a CIA operative, or one of its private contractors associated with either DynCorp or Xe International. But such lax security in a country that is a target of terrorism, DynCorp managed to create quite a covert network in Pakistan before being busted by Pakistani security last year. DynCorp remains in Pakistan, thanks to backing from both the US Embassy in Islamabad and the pro-US government, despite repeated attempts by the country’s security officials to force the US defense contractor to wrap up its operations here. Xe International, formerly known as Blackwater, also operated in Pakistan until 2005 before being moved to Afghanistan, according to an earlier report in the New York Times. But going by the number of incidents in Pakistan over the past couple of years where US private agents were seen operating in major Pakistani cities, it is safe to say that both contractors continue to quietly operate in Pakistan in one

Private contractors help give CIA the benefit of deniability if an agent is arrested on foreign territory.

CIA has been known to send US citizens of foreign descent to their home countries for espionage.

The most recent example is Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American who was busted in Tehran carrying sensitive documents handed to her by an informant. Ms. Saberi was sent to Iran posing as a journalist. CIA even managed to get her newspaper accreditation from a major American newspaper. The US government was embarrassed at the arrest because Ms. Saberi was arrested red handed receiving official documents from a contact.

In Pakistan, a State that is falling apart at the seams, with no central figure or department to control the rot, is providing the perfect environment for meddling in the country not only by the United States, UK, India and other established powers based in Afghanistan, but also by a puppet regime like that of Mr. Hamid Karzai and his spymasters, who in eight years are in a good position today to wreak mayhem inside Pakistan while the politicians in Islamabad and the military in Rawaplpindi have little recourse beyond words of appeasement or caution during closed-door meetings with foreign powers in Afghanistan that are never translated into action to reestablish Pakistan’s writ domestically and in the region.

Mr. Shah is an independent journalist based in Peshawar.

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Balochistan: CIA’s Crumbling Project

Ahmed Quraishi:

A photograph has surfaced that shows a terrorist wanted by Iran visiting a US military base in Afghanistan. Another terrorist wanted by Pakistan has also been spotted meeting Indian spies under American watch—in Afghanistan.  Iran arrests one such terrorist but Pakistan’s pro-US government refuses to take a stand on a terrorist insurgency openly backed by rogue US elements, with Indian support.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—After occupying Afghanistan, rogue CIA elements launched a campaign to create a new state of Balochistan out of two conjoined provinces in Pakistan and Iran.

This was done to create the shortest possible supply route from the sea to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

The Sunni-Shia divide was exploited in Iran and a language-based divide was used in Pakistan. In other words, the result was a sectarian Balochi insurgency in Iran and an ethnic one in Pakistan.

This is how Jundullah was born in Iran and Balochistan Liberation Army in Pakistan. Both were armed and supported by CIA using the Afghan soil.

But this American terror infrastructure is now crumbling. Fast.

The idea of using Afghan soil for regional US strategies – against Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China, as the need be – has failed miserably. One reason is exposure. Eight years is enough time for everyone to understand the double game being played in the region in the name of war on terror, which is America’s war no matter how many millions of dollars the US government invests in propaganda in the region to convince the people it is otherwise.

Despite a pliant Pakistani government, Pakistan, for example, is not ready to cooperate with the United States if Pakistani interests are not protected along with US interests. Pakistan took a long time to take a stand. But it has come around finally. Of course CIA was not operating alone. It enlisted the help of India and several Western intelligence agencies, turning Afghanistan into a source of regional destabilization. That’s exactly what al-Qaeda was doing before 2002.

The arrest of the ringleader of CIA-backed Jundullah group, Mr. Abdolmalek Rigi, is a major development. Iran’s intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi showed damning evidence today to the media, confirming beyond doubt the terror group’s link to US intelligence in Afghanistan:

In a press conference Moslehi showed a photograph of the leader of the group, Abdulmalek Rigi, 24 hours before his arrest at a US troops camp in Afghanistan, as well as an ID card, an Afghan passport and a Dubai visa belonging to Rigi and prepared by the US to facilitate his travels in the region as evidence to show the terrorist leader’s cooperation with Washington and certain other countries.

Last year, his younger brother Abdolhamid Rigi was arrested by Pakistani intelligence and handed over to Iran. The younger Rigi admitted on television to meeting US diplomats, or possible intelligence agents, in Karachi and Islamabad.

The worst part of the story is that former President Musharraf might have allowed CIA-backed Jundullah to use Pakistani soil, along with Afghanistan’s, to mount operations inside Iran. Of course there were times when Iran did the same: organize and arm sectarian militant groups inside Pakistan as part of Iran’s policy of militarizing Shia minorities in neighboring countries. But that was a different time. What the Americans were doing in Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan was tied to the parallel terror insurgency in Pakistani Balochistan.

It is possible that this was one more concession that Mr. Musharraf granted US in Pakistan. But it is Pakistan and its intelligence that arrested and handed over Jundullah leader’s younger brother to Iran last year. Pakistani intelligence might have had something to do with the arrest of the elder Rigi too. But Iranian officials are denying that Pakistan helped them in any way in this arrest, and won’t say where Abdolhamid Rigi was seized. Read more of this post

Pakistani Professors Must Stop Pakistan-Bashing

by Ahmed Quraishi

Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, teaching defense and strategy to Pakistani students, calls Pakistan’s Founding Father and the national poet ‘homosexuals’.

And Prof. A. H. Nayyar, an alumni of the largest university in Islamabad, is asking followers to fake evidence against Pakistan’s founder in order to show him to young Pakistanis as someone who ate ham, which is prohibited for Muslims and Jews.

What’s eating Prof. Nayyar and Dr. Siddiqa is that there is a revival taking place among young Pakistanis, the single largest group in a population of 170 million. The revival is unprecedented and seeks to renew faith in Pakistan.  It is a reaction to anti-Pakistan reports and think-tank findings mainly in the United States over the past three years that sought to dismiss Pakistan as a nation on the verge of collapse. Pakistanis have also been galvanized by evidence showing Indians exporting terrorism into Pakistan from US-controlled Afghanistan.

The evidence against both teachers, presented here for the first time, indicates a major problem facing most Pakistani colleges and universities. A small but noisy group of professors is encouraging students to attack the very foundations of the Pakistani state.

This is alarming considering the timing and the regional instability resulting from America’s Afghan war.

Both Dr. Siddiqa and Prof. Nayyar have access to one of the most influential Pakistani seats of learning, the Quaid-e-Azam University in the heart of the Pakistani capital. Both of them are also known to hold what many describe as views more sympathetic to Pakistan’s regional detractors.

Dr. Siddiqa’s statement was part of a discussion she had with an Indian journalist on Facebook on Feb. 10, 2010.  A screen shot can be seen with this report. [Click here to see the actual conversation on Facebook].

Prof. Nayyar’s statement came in a discussion on Feb. 8, 2010 by members of an Internet mailing list called Socialist Pakistan News. A screen shot is provided.

Bashing Pakistan, its history, the Pakistan Independence Movement, the Founding Fathers, and the country’s military are common themes among some of these university professors. Coincidentally, most of them also happen to be very supportive of American and Indian criticism of Pakistan.  In Dr. Siddiqa and Prof. Nayyar’s cases, both of them are active members of so-called peace groups that explicitly embrace Indian hegemony in the region.

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